Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Engaging readers means you have to give, of yourself

I have taken the opportunity to read some of the blogs that have been updated on Pedagogy first website. I like the way all individual blogposts with the tag potcert11 feed into the website.

I really enjoyed the honesty with which Bonnie told her personal story it really engaged me, and I think that is the key for blogging, I now have some work to do reading Wesley Fryer’s ebook ‘Playing with Media’. Giving of yourself, to engage your audience. It takes a while to gain the confidence to ‘put yourself out there’ ie write your personal story on a blog that could potentially be seen by anyone but I think that the more you ‘give’ the more you get.
As a trainer I have come to realise that it is you and your ‘honesty’- being yourself, that people connect with when you are training. They can smell an imposter a mile off. If you give of yourself, whether it is your perspective or your story you will engage them, then you deliver the content.
How do we do this online? Just the same as we do face to face, but we have more time to think about it – don’t overanalyse it though, as this takes away the – individuality.

When I first started blogging I was guided by Sarah Stewart, she is a midwife based in New Zealand who was facilitating FO2010 an online facilitation course (which is also being offered in 2012). She gave (& still gives) very personal perspectives, experiences and stories. At first I considered this a little too personal, I suppose I expected her to be more ‘serious and sensible’. In retrospect I can see how her style; both on her blog and in online interactions (to date I have not met Sarah face to face) is ‘her style’. Sarah truly reflects who she is and that’s okay, in fact that is better than okay because she engages me. If I have 100 blogs to read on Google Reader I will check Sarah's latest posts. Another key techique that Sarah does in her blogposts is ‘ask questions’ she prompts readers to comment so as to generate, what I believe Brandon calls, ‘distributed conversations’.

I think Todd engaged us in the Blackboard Elluminate tutorial because his introduction showed us where he is, the physical space around him, the office. Who cares what Todd’s office looks like? Not me, but yes me. I didn’t need to see Todd’s office to understand how to blog better but it engaged me as it was how he invited me into his personal space.  In many ways we can make an online connnection more personal than if we were in a face to face environment.

How do you connect personally and engage your audience?

Alec Couros gave us a personal insight to himself, with family photos. I would suggest that the You Tube viral videos he showed were so popular because the subjects give an insight into themselves, whether it is their sensitivity (to being bitten on the finger by their little brother 'Charlie) or their silly side.

So what am I getting at here? Good question! I think I am trying to say that regardless of the tool, you need to find a way (that is yours) of being you. We can learn all the tricks and techniques for blogging, or tweeting or Googl+ing, but you need to make it work for you….whether you are feeding in (reading, listening, watching) or feeding out (blogging, sharing, recording, facilitating, training).

I am interested to hear your thoughts, do you feel that giving a personal perspective engages readers or is it too risky to put 'yourself out there' into cyberspace?


Coach John said...

Yes I agree that it is essential to connect w/ your audience, whether in person or via cyber-space. Part of that connection can be thru sharing some personal information about you, as long as you don't get into deep emotional things. (That is a turn-off!) Using family photos, personal anecdotes, especially humorous ones, are ways to connect. It's about being warm, real, (authentic), and letting your audience know by example that your are willing to be vulnerable. Then you invite them to do the same, assuring them that it is 'safe' to share some of themselves w/ you and their fellow students. Nice entry: thanks for sharing your thoughts. Coach John

Kim Mc said...

Thanks for your support Coach John, that's the word 'authenticity'. I really liked Todd's technique of showing us around the room, inviting us into his space. I would be interested to hear some techniques from others who are experienced in online facilitation.

catkins_in_nz said...

Yes I agree too :) Students can 'tell an imposter a mile off' so true and I think it is all about creating relationships both among the students and between yourself and the individual students. I find it so much easier to learn from someone with whom I am engaged as a human being. I agree with John that it doesn't need to be a deep emotional connection - just as I wouldn't expect to divulge to my f2f students (Yuk - TOO much information! I can imagine the faces!)but having a sense of where someone is and who they are, what makes them laugh etc etc helps to establish that elusive learning space. I particularly like the part about showing your own vulnerability as a way of creating that 'safe' space. These are some of the ideas that led me to post in my blog about Transparent Learning.

Also I just wanted to make the Sarah Stewart connection! I first met Sarah when I was taking a session for an early 'facilitating online' on virtual worlds and Sarah came into Second Life for the first time! She then became the lead educator for the midwifery build of the SLENZ project which I led here in NZ - she was amazing to work with and great fun to be around! I hope you get to meet her in person some time. I also read her blog fairly frequently even though I have no real interest in midwifery! She writes so well!

Thanks for your post and thanks for your comments John

bonnie k said...

I have been comfortable as a digital resident for a number of years now but no matter what you know here you really don't know as much as you think.
This world of online teaching, that's new for me and I'm enjoying getting to meet this new community.

Thanks Kim, for your connection to Sarah's work and for visiting and mentioning my blog so nicely.


Nastasy said...

Absolutely! Connecting, getting personal, sharing and discussing - this is what engages the audience 'casue it is real experience, not theory or hypothesis, it's something that works. Experienced student, and teacher, Nastasy.

Jean said...

Hi Kim, I loved your comments regarding Todd in his office. It did indeed make him more approachable and "real". I have been experimenting with wonderful results with this in an online course I am currently teaching and it seems to be helping keep students engaged and accountable as well. When they know more about me and my "space" they seem less likely to let me down, so to speak. Great observations!

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Kim, thank you so much for your very kind words. I hope we get to meet up some time. I have found that when I do meet people who I have connected with via my blog, we have a much deeper relationship, than even casual friends :)

Hi Catkins, lovely to hear from you as well...gosh, those days when we first met in SL seem so long ago...and look where we all are now :)

Kim Mc said...

I have found a blogpost from the elearning coach (Connie Malamad)which talks about storytelling. I think giving of yourself/telling your story is along the same lines http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning2-0/why-you-need-to-use-storytelling-for-learning/